SOCHI (Russia): Grandmaster D Harika joined compatriot Koneru Humpy in the quarterfinals of the World Women’s Chess Championship beating former champion Alexandra Kosteniuk of Russia in the rapid tie-break games that concluded on Thursday.
Harika beat the local favourite 1.5-0.5, showing nerves of steel. Harika won the first game in the rapid chess after being pushed to the tie-break by Kosteniuk and then held on to her own in the return game to make it to the last eight of the championship.
In the next round now, Harika plays the lowest remaining seed Meri Arabidze of Georgia while Humpy will take on Ukrainian Mariya Muzychuk.
It turned out to be another exciting day of tie-breaks and the biggest gainer was Arabidze who caused another upset at the expense of Viktorija Cmilyte of Lithuania winning the first and drawing the second tie-break game.
The other winner in the tie-break was Natalija Pogonina of Russia, who scripted a big comeback beating Marie Sebag of France in both rapid games. Pogonina, the last remaining Russian in the fray, had lost the first game under normal time control against Sebag and had to equalise first before winning the tie-break.
The championship this year had started with 64 players under knockout system. There are two games in each round except the final which will be played over four games. In case of tied result, games of shorter duration are played to determine the winner. The champion will take home USD 60000.
Playing white in the first game, Harika went for a quiet opening against Kosteniuk. The Indian was content not to look for a decisive opening advantage and this proved a good strategy.
The Russian lady solved her opening problems and got a decent middle game with dynamics in place. However, an erroneous plan in the later stages made the position roughly equal but Harika left looking for more.
The position was still level when Kosteniuk blundered a pawn in the ensuing rook and pawns endgame and Harika did not miss anything after that to win in style.
Going for the French defense in the second game as black, Harika equalised in the opening and capitalised on a miscalculation by Kosteniuk to win a pawn. Kosteniuk, however, found some complications in her favour as the game progressed and it was a difficult defense for Harika.
Kosteniuk could have obtained a big advantage in the rook endgame that followed but, with her clock ticking away, the Russian walked in to a theoretically drawn position. Harika saved the game without further ado.
The young Georgian Meri Arabidze showed excellent endgame technique against Victoria Cmilyte in the first game of the tiebreaker and won without difficulty.
In the return game, Cmilyte created complexities and won a pawn only to let the position drift towards a draw with perfect play by Arabidze.
Quarterfinal line-up: Mariya Muzychuk (Ukr) – Koneru Humpy (Ind); Meri Arabidze (Geo) – D Harika (India), Natalija Pogonina (Rus) – Zhao Xue (Chn), Pia Cramling (Swe) – Anna Muzychuk (Ukr).
Complete results round 3: Koneru Humpy (Ind) beat Alisa Galliamova (Rus) 2-0; Marie Sebag (Fra) lost to Natalija Pogonina (Rus) 1-1, 0-2; Anna Muzychuk (Ukr) beat Lela Javakhishvili (Geo) 1.5-0.5; Meri Arabidze (Geo) beat Viktorija Cmilyte (Ltu) 1-1, 1.5-0.5; Alexandra Kosteniuk (Rus) lost to D Harika (Ind) 1-1, 0.5-1.5; Pia Cramling (Swe) beat Valentina Gunina (Rus) 1.5-0.5; Zhao Xue (Chn) beat Bela Khotenashvili (Geo) 1.5-0.5; Antoaneta Stefanova (Bul) lost to Mariya Muzychuk (Ukr) 0.5-1.5.